Today was a special day! We conducted the first Project AWARE Shark Conservation Course for 13 DMT´s and 4 Instructors. Not only creating 17 Specialty certifications, but also 4 Instructor Ratings on top of that. We already conducted Project AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty course at Ban’s, but this was only the theory with no certification. Now it was time for the real deal!
After a briefing we all went on the Ban´s speedboat heading to Shark Bay to do 40 minutes of snorkeling with Black Tip Reef Sharks and clean the shallow area of the bay. All of us were very excited whether we would see some sharks and nervous about how much garbage we might find. So equipped with cameras and mash bags we went into the water. After we came back on the boat, we had mixed feelings shined through in the lovely morning sun. On one hand it was fantastic seeing a few Sharks, but on the other hand we were sad about the large amount of garbage we collected! Maybe the main reason why we didn’t see that many sharks there was because of the destruction we saw. Koh Tao is developing rapidly and now we are seeing the difference in the large amount of debris in the water effecting Marine Life. It is amazing do to see so many Dive centers and Divers actively doing so much keep our waters healthy. The project AWARE Shark Conservation Course is a fantastic addition to the already Project AWARE Beach and Reef Clean Ups. We at Ban’s are now going to be conducting this course every 3 weeks combined with Reef Clean-Ups.
Day 2 Morning
In the classroom we hit the whole group with a sledgehammer by showing the first half hour of SHARKWATER. This eye-opener was the perfect start for doing the knowledge reviews. Everyone was participating with all of their hearts! In the end we firmly agreed that it is was useless to discuss who is to blame, but that it is more important to get involved and even more important to get other people involved. Together we can make a difference!
Day 2 Afternoon
After a lunch it was time to get on the boat to do two dives at Chumphon Pinnacle. Chumphon Pinnacle is a fantastic dive site and a big attraction for the tourists. The site is well known for a chance of spotting a Whale Shark, so everyone was very excited. Our main goal was to find treats for sharks on the surface and under water, but of course we were all armed to the teeth with Project AWARE mash bags to clean any debris we mind find.
We divided into 4 groups with a “Shark Team leader” for each group. With 4 groups we could cover the whole dive site from North, South, East and West. On the North side we discovered a massive fishing cage which was deeper than 30 meters. This will be an amazing job for our Tec Team next time to deal with. The West side was clear so that was really good. The east side was also ok with only a little part covered with fishing net that we removed. On the South side where we have Barracuda Rock we discovered a true nightmare! A pinnacle totally covered in fishing nets between 16 and 27 meters of depth. We instantly started to remove the nets on the pinnacle. Quite a tough job to do because we had to be careful not to damage the aquatic life under it…. Getting close to our NDL limits we needed to abort the dive.
On the second dive we all concentrate on finishing removing the nets from the pinnacle. All groups put in a lot of effort and we managed to free the pinnacle from the nets. Relieved and happy we continued the dive discovering more pinnacles affected with fishing nets. There was no more time to remove those, so we decided to come back in a few day’s to remove those to. Seeing no Whale Shark didn’t change the mood. Everyone had a fantastic day, knowing so much more about the treats that sharks face and very happy to solved a bit of the problem!
I think that if people know how to get involved, they will get involved! And that is the best result from a Project AWARE Shark Conservation Course, that the participants will now spread the word and get more people excited in doing the course. Again together we CAN make a difference!
We are also very excited to announce that our PADI Staff Instructor Jens Nielsen will be the head instructor on our future Project AWARE Shark Specialty course. He did an amazing job and will continue to amaze us with the next courses.
If you are now interested in doing the course and get certified as a Project AWARE Shark Conservation Diver, then please email us for more information and course dates: firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also get information in the reception of Ban’s Diving Resort.
Special Thanks to:
Jens Nielsen # 283242
Simon Jonsson # 287374
Rosie of the Film Company Koh Tao ( www.facebook.com/TheFilmCompany )
Ban’s Diving Resort ( www.facebook.com/bansdivingresort )